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Kansas History - Spring 2007

(Vol. 30, No. 1)

Kansas History, Spring 2007

Kim Warren, "'All Indian trails lead to Lawrence, October 27 to 30, 1926': American Identity and the Dedication of Haskell Institute's Football Stadium."

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All "Indian trails" did seem to lead to Lawrence when the four-day celebration to dedicate Haskell's new football stadium arrived, and the festivities included the dedication, an intertribal powwow, contests, parades, and a football game. In the midst of all the activity before and during the celebration, it is important to remember, writes University of Kansas historian Dr. Kim Warren, that "school officials sought to distinguish between their modern students and alumni and the other celebration visitors." The idea was to showcase Haskell students and alumni as the desirable future in contrast to the "exotic and unassimilable" Indian visitors who represented the "primitive" past. "The irony is that the money donated by the thousands of visitors who descended on Haskell's campus … provided the essential funding for the stadium. The stadium would stand as a symbol of pan-Indian pride, but the weekend celebration … would expose the competing visions of Indian citizenship and the position of boarding schools in fashioning roles for the next generation of Native Americans."

Margaret A. Bickers, "Oasis in the Short Grass: Geography, Politics and Urban Water Supply in Garden City, Kansas, 1925-1960."

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Shortly after its founding in the 1880s, the city of Garden City, Kansas, tapped into abundant supplies ground water for drinking and municipal irrigation. According to historian Margaret Bickers, this allowed city leaders to "spend" water on urban beautification and development, and even during times of drought, residents were encouraged to use water. A stand of trees surrounded by green lawns gave notice to the world that Garden City still lived up to its name, defying the semi-arid nature of the region, and that city leaders and residents had turned the valley's abundant ground water into an oasis in the short grass. But supply was not the only water problem facing local officials. The city's location in the Arkansas River flood plain caused residents to complain about street flooding and made routing sewer pipes a challenge. As a result, until 1960 wastewater disposal drew more attention from Garden City's residents and government than did planning and developing the city's water supply.

Raymond B. Wrabley, Jr., “Drunk Driving or Dry Run? Cowboys and Alcohol on the Cattle Trail.”

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Heavy drinking was common in the nineteenth-century West, and drinking on the job was also common in a number of the "rough masculine" work cultures of the mid-1800s. It is well known, explains political science professor Raymond B. Wrabley Jr of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Pennsylvania, that the tens of thousands of cowboys who herded cattle up the trails to market drank heartily in the end-of-the-trail cattle towns such as Abilene and Dodge City, Kansas. It is less clear whether cowboys constituted an "intemperate occupational drinking culture" by drinking during the cattle drives, and, if so, why and with what consequence. An examination of the many reminiscences and accounts of cowboys for evidence of drinking on the cattle drives reveals occasional incidences of "drunk driving," but more commonly a record of dry runs.

Robert A. Mead, "Cowboys and Lawyers: Ambivalence and Myth in the History and Literature of the Southern Plains."

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Focusing on Kansas and the Southern Plains, author Robert A. Mead, the state law librarian at the New Mexico Supreme Court Law Library, examines the Wests of myth and history as they relate to the practice of law on the frontier. "Separating the mythic West from the multiple historical Wests is difficult, especially where history is intertwined with myth," writes Mead. "One key distinction is that the West of myth is not necessarily rooted in a particular time or location. For purposes of the myth, Tombstone, Arizona, may as well be a hard day's ride from Dodge City, Kansas, and 1895 was more or less the same as 1875. Reality is, of course, much more complicated." Like the frontier clergy, so well treated by historian Ferenc M. Szasz, Mead concludes that "lawyers and judges were quite prominent in the reality of the Southern Plains in the second half of the nineteenth century, but they pose an enigma to the mythic West."


White Man's Paper Trail: Grand Councils and Treaty-Making on the Central Plains
by Stan Hoig
xvi + 245 pages, illustrations, appendixes, notes, bibliography, index.
Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2006, cloth $34.95.
Reviewed by James Carroll, Associate Professor of History, Iona College, New Rochelle, New York.

The Boundaries Between Us: Natives and Newcomers Along the Frontiers of the Old Northwest Territory, 1750-1850
edited by Daniel P. Barr
xix + 261 pages, notes, bibliography, index.
Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2006, cloth $52.00.
Reviewed by Mark A. Nicholas, assistant professor, University of St. Thomas, Houston, Texas.

Next Year Country: Dust to Dust in Western Kansas, 1890-1940
by Craig Miner
xx + 371 pages, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006, cloth $34.95.
Reviewed by Bruce R. Kahler, professor of history, Bethany College, Lindsborg.

Finding Sand Creek: History, Archeology, and the 1864 Massacre Site
by Jerome A. Greene and Douglas D. Scott, forward by Christine Whitacre
xxvi + 241 pages, photographs, maps, tables, notes, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004, paper $14.95.
Reviewed by Randall M. Thies, archeologist, Kansas Historical Society.

Railwayman's Son: A Plains Family Memoir
by Hugh Hawkins
xxi + 196 pages, photographs, appendix, index.
Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press, 2006, cloth, $24.95.
Reviewed by I. E. Quastler, professor emeritus, San Diego State University, San Diego, California.

Beyond the Missouri: The Story of the American West
by Richard W. Etulain
xi + 466 pages, photographs, maps, bibliography, index.
Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 2006, cloth $39.95, paper $24.95.
Reviewed by Christopher J. Huggard, NorthWest Arkansas Community College, Bentonville.

War Dance at Fort Marion: Plains Indian War Prisoners
by Brad D. Lookingbill
xiii + 290 pages, photographs, notes, bibliography, index.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2006, cloth $29.95.
Reviewed by David R. Wilson, assistant professor of history and American Indian Studies, Utah Valley State College, Orem.

Book Notes

From Lead Mines to Gold Fields: Memories of an Incredibly Long Life. By Henry Taylor, edited and with an introduction by Donald L. Parman. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2006, xxvi + 225 pages, cloth $29.95.)

When Henry Taylor died in 1931 at the age of 103, many considered his life notable simply for its longevity. But Taylor had more to contribute. In his eightieth year, he had undertaken to record his life story; twenty years later he completed the project. During his lifetime, Taylor witnessed major American wars, twenty-six presidential administrations, and dramatic shifts in transportation, and he also experienced many personal adventures. The volume includes a nice introduction by historian Donald Parman, but most of the narrative is Taylor's. He recounts his trek from the Midwest to the gold fields of California as well as his recollection of events such as the Great San Francisco earthquake. Readers of Kansas History and others interested in the American West will find his memories not only entertaining but astoundingly accurate.

History of the 90th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the War of the Great Rebellion in the United States, 1861 to 1865. By Henry O. Harden, edited by Scott Cameron. (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2006, x + 342 pages, paper $24.95.)

Editor Scott Cameron commenced the study of his family history with a remarkable find-a book published by his great-great-grandfather over one hundred years earlier. But Henry O. Harden's book did more than just contributed to the Cameron family history; his was the history of a Civil War regiment, the 90th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. With the aid of personal letters, diaries, and memoirs, Harden brings his Civil War experience to life. Those interested in Civil War history will enjoy this new, personal perspective on familiar battles such as Atlanta, Chickamauga, and Kennesaw Mountain. The story of these Ohio soldiers is told using vivid descriptions of battles and includes miscellaneous poems and stories as recorded by the men. By reintroducing his ancestor's book, Scott Cameron has greatly contributed to the collection of primary accounts by Civil War soldiers.

Captain Tough: Chief of Scouts. By Charles F. Harris. (Wyandotte, Okla.: The Gregath Publishing Company, 2005, iv + 126 pages, paper $14.95.)

Kansas History who are also Border War enthusiasts will no doubt welcome the publication of Captain Tough: Chief of Scouts by attorney Charles F. Harris. Harris compares Captain William Tough, whose professions ranged from Pony Express rider to a strikebreaker to a state legislator, to Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok and argues that although Tough is not as well-known, he "led an equally unique and thrilling life." In this brief, easy-to-read volume, Harris traces Tough from his early life in Maryland to his later business ventures in Kansas City. Those interested in Civil War history will be drawn to the account of Tough's experience as a Union Army scout and the infamous Kansas-Missouri border war, which is examined through Tough's role as a member of the Kansas Red Legs, a militia-like group with loose Union affiliation that terrorized Missouri border towns.

Dreaming the Mississippi. By Katherine Fischer. (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006, xiv + 210 pages, paper $18.95.)

In Dreaming the Mississippi, Katherine Fischer tells the story of one of America's most well-known geographical features-the mighty Mississippi River-by examining the river's many facets, including the environment, industry, and recreation. To her own personal experiences from years of living literally on the banks of the river, the author adds the voices of river rats, towboat pilots, and those who have personally battled the often-ravaging floodwaters of the Mississippi. As Lorraine Anderson, author of Literature and the Environment: A Reader on Nature and Culture, observed, Fischer "tells engaging tales about the complex relationship between humans and one of the great rivers"; she also "gives voice to the wild soul of the Mississippi and to our own wild souls." Those interested in environmental history will appreciate the contribution made by Dreaming the Mississippi, but its photographs and Fischer's clear, fluid writing style should make this book an enjoyable read for anyone with even a casual interest in the topic.

Picturing the Past: South Dakota's Historic Places. By Jay D. Vogt and Stephen C. Rogers, with photographs by Scott Myers. (Pierre: South Dakota Historical Society Press, 2006, ix + 107 pages, cloth $29.95.)

Anyone who has driven across the state of Kansas, or any other state in the Midwest, has almost certainly noted the beauty of the region. Unfortunately, observers also note such sights as abandoned grain elevators, dilapidated churches, and no-longer-in-use farmhouses and outbuildings. This is certainly the case in South Dakota. In Picturing the Past, authors Jay Vogt and Stephen Rogers address the issue of historic preservation and show that it is something that can affect the average person's everyday life. Throughout the book's seven chapters, Vogt and Rogers examine many of South Dakota's historical buildings and provide wonderful photographs of them. These vivid images are then discussed in terms of historic preservation, an increasingly important topic across America. The great pictures and insightful contextual narrative that accompanies them will broaden this volume's appeal to anyone interested in preserving America's past.

Blades in the Sky: Windmilling through the Eyes of B.H. "Tex" Burdick. By T. Lindsay Baker. (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2006, xiv + 107 pages, cloth $20.00.)

From the Great Depression to World War II, farmers and ranchers in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico dealt with the problem of making sure they had enough water to make their land productive. One answer to the problem was water-pumping windmills. Although windmills are a familiar sight to midwesterners and westerners even today, little thought has been given to the story behind these important structures. Blades in the Sky tells the story of Tex Burdick and his windmill-building crew. These proud men themselves tell the story, and readers will learn what they ate, what they wore, and, most importantly, why they at times literally risked their lives to ensure the production and maintenance of windmills. Accompanied by Burdick's photographs, the men's recollections both enthrall and inform. By recounting this story in a well-written narrative, T. Lindsay Baker offers a fresh perspective on the importance of windmills and windmillers.